Never mind the gongs, who wore the best (and worst) Oscar gowns
Forget black, this time the dress code was colour — and the thigh was the limit! Lindy McDowell casts a sartorial eye over the haute couture on the red carpet
Hurrah for Hollywood! Where other awards ceremonies have recently stuck to a Time's Up dress code of darkest mourning wear, Oscars attendees brought back the colour and glitz to the red carpet with Tinseltown's finest turning out in all their tinselly finery. Metallics, sister, are the new black. Big earrings, clutch bags and thigh splits were also all over the show. So who shone? Who dazzled? And who just looked daft?
Lupita Nyong'o. Presenting one of the awards, the actress looked amazing in a fabulous gown by Atelier Versace as gold and glitzy as old Oscar himself. With the compulsory thigh split, the gown also featured an unusual studded detail from one shoulder to waist. This gave the faint impression that she'd been strung with a Second World War machine gun bandolier. But Lupita hit the target. She even donned a dapper pair of glasses to read out the nominations. A vision in gold.
Jennifer Lawrence. Red Sparrow star Jen has taken some flak of late for wearing... frankly, very little. Her Oscars outfit consisted of a gold Dior gown with tiny little straps in an unusual textured fabric. The dress had a vague look of medieval chainmail about it, which Jennifer the Lionheart accessorised later with a glass of white wine. Or several. Her blonde hair was waved in a nod to vintage Hollywood. You can't beat a diva in Dior.
Margot Robbie. Pre-Oscars, Margot was said to be the actress every design house wanted to dress. And this strapless number in ivory Chanel Haute Couture didn't disappoint. There's always a danger of a long ivory/white gown looking a bit wedding-dressy, and the draped detail around the shoulders here did call to mind a bit, the icing on a wedding cake. Nonetheless a winning look which she accessorised with a bag that looked like a small lantern.
Saoirse Ronan. The brilliant 'Lady Bird' actress chose a quirky, pink, strapless silk gown which totally complemented her pale skin and hair so straight it could have been cut by laser. The strapless dress, which wasn't quite full length, featured an odd bow/train thingy at the back. By Calvin Klein By Appointment (which is obviously much more expensive that Calvin Klein without appointment). On anyone else this dress might just have looked silly. On Saoirse it was stunning.
Viola Davis. Okay... hot pink, shimmering with sequins, large hoop earrings? Tricky enough, you'd think, to pull off if the look you're aiming for is chic and sophisticated. But in this vibrant gown by Michael Kors, the star of How to Get Away With Murder, got away with it - and then some. Viola accessorised her floor length gown with sparkling hoop earrings. And with her hair swept back but left long and full, she exuded full-on Hollywood glamour.
Ashley Judd. One of the leading voices behind the Time's Up movement, actress Ashley opted for an elegant Badgley Mischka dress in feminist purple. The strapless gown had a flattering ruched top. A simple, no fuss cut that suits the actress. And suits the times.
Octavia Spencer. The Shape of Wateractress wore a fabulous full gown in a dark emerald green. The off-the-shoulder design by Brandon Maxwell was proper showbiz enchantment, nipped in at the waist to complement the actress's voluptuous figure. No thigh split but she did have a clutch bag.
Alison Williams. Beige. Come on. Who wears beige at an awards do? And yet the Get Out actress absolutely stole the show in this magical gown with what's described as an illusion neckline and full skirt. The beading on the body gave the dress a hint of vintage. And Ms Williams' dark locks and dazzling drop earrings saved it from being too... well...beige. One of the evening's stand-out looks.
Zendaya. This brown number by Giambattista Valli has been savaged by some who say the former Disney child star was swamped by it. It does look a bit on the big side on the young actress/singer. And yes, it does appear to be falling off one shoulder. But I think that's the point. I liked it. It's a difficult dress but she wears it well. Not everybody wants to look like a Disney Princess.
Rita Moreno. Oh, this old thing, I've had it for ages! The 86-year-old wore the same dress she'd worn when picking up her Best Supporting Actress gong for West Side Story back way, way back in 1962. This dress then, is older than most of Hollywood's leading ladies. But as they sing in the musical, there's a place for it. Strapless and fitted, true it showed off a bit of la Moreno's back fat. And the garish gold flower pattern is a bit too wallpaper. The Nefertiti-style necklace was a nice touch though. And top marks for an eye-catching look that the cameras zoomed in on. Plus an extra mark for recycling.
And those who didn’t do so well...
St Vincent. I doubt if the singer is too bothered that her look-at-me outfit has been roundly ridiculed. I think the point here is just to get noticed. This isn't exactly a dress. Somewhere between a swimsuit and bad foundation wear. And what was that on her shoulder? Somebody's raincoat? It's the sort of skimpy outfit that a hardy Geordie girl might wear on a night out. Except the Geordie girl would wear it better.
Blanca Blanco. With a thigh split and a strange keyhole (a very large keyhole) gap at the front, Ms Blanco was determined to flash the flesh. It's not the coverage (or lack of it) that misses the mark here. It's the colour scheme. With its red and white stripes, this gown looked like it had been squeezed out of a toothpaste tube. Overall just way too try-too-hard.
Taraji P Henson. Black mesh. A thigh split. An illusion keyhole cut-out top and fringey 'sleeves'. There's just too much going on with this silly, fussy dress and it does nothing for this gorgeous girl. By Vera Wang in black French tulle it makes the actress look like she's had an accident with a shredder.
Salma Hayek. What the Hayek was she thinking? This gown in lilac, layered ruffles (that's never going to work is it?) is by Gucci, would you believe it? Salma appears to be channelling a Grecian maid in chains look. Again it's all much too much. And what is that stuff around her neckline? It looks like she's borrowed the snow chains from the limo.
Helen Mirren. I know it is verboten to diss la Mirren, poster girl of graceful ageing, but while this dress is lovely in its own way, it's just not very red carpet. Long-sleeved, it's in one of those dour shades of blue that Farrow and Ball do paint in. Which is great on a feature wall but a bit too demur for red carpet wear. True, Ms Mirren's make-up and hair are picture perfect. The dress tough, is dullsville.
Nicole Kidman. What possessed her? This has to be the worst look of the night as the veteran actress, dripping in millions of dollars worth of diamonds, stepped out in a big blue bow. It's one thing standing out from the crowd but standing out from the hips is something else. Everything is wrong here. It too blue for her skin tone and too silly for words. Jessica Rabbit crossed with gift wrap. What possessed her?
And finally the award for Best Supporting Tuxedo...
Adam Rippon. The traditional dinner suit doesn't allow much room for men to stand out from the crowd. At least it didn't until Olympic figure skater, the talented Mr Rippon showed up in this Moschino number with cut-away shoulders held up by what the Americans call suspenders. And beneath the jacket, a harness. Yes, a harness. A little bit bondage. A little bit someone's gone mad with the scissors. But if you want to grab headlines, boys, this is how you do it. Next year surely there'll be no stopping any of them.